Archived Story

‘Find out if public wants levy’

Published 2:15pm Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Paramedic voices views on commission decision

A Lawrence County EMS paramedic speaking before the county commission as a private citizen said voters should be allowed to decide if they want a levy to support the EMS.

Terry Dolin made his plea for the levy at the commission’s Tuesday work session. Deadline for placing an issue on the November ballot is today.

At its regular meeting on Aug. 1, Commission President Bill Pratt made a motion to place on the November ballot a 2-mill levy to fund EMS services and a 1.25-levy for 911 dispatching. Placing the levies before the voters was part of a Lawrence County Public Safety Funding Plan developed to provide a funding stream for both agencies over a five-year period.

The 2-mill levy would have generated $1.6 million a year and the dispatching levy would have brought in $1 million annually.

Pratt’s motion died for want of a second from Commissioner Les Boggs. Commissioner Freddie Hayes was not at that meeting, but had publicly said he was opposed to any new taxes.

“When you guys say no, you are making that decision,” Terry Dolin told the three commissioners.

Approximately three years ago, Dolin and some of his colleagues circulated petitions stating a 2-mill levy should be placed on the ballot to fund the then EMS service — the Southeast Ohio Emergency Medical Services, a tri-county agency that was disbanded at the end of 2010.

EMS professionals were looking for additional money for SEOEMS. Dolin said at that time, at least 300 signatures were collected.

In 2007 the county commission passed the initiative petition policy requiring signatures equal to 3 percent of the voters in the previous gubernatorial race be collected “for any proposed levy to be endorsed by the commissioners.”

At last week’s meeting Pratt and Boggs debated the intent of the policy.

Even with the required number of signatures that commission did not put the levy on the ballot.

“Those signatures were where the public said they wanted some kind of levy,” Dolin said.

Boggs, who said he did not remember that petition drive, is the only current commissioner who was a member of the earlier commission. Boggs said he was recently at a Russell, Ky., restaurant when other diners came up to him to applaud his decision to not allow the issue to go on the ballot because they cannot afford it.

“We might have to do something,” he said. “I don’t think this is the right time.”

With the levy the EMS would have had secured funding, Pratt said.

“Will the county have a $1 million next year?” he asked. “Most likely not.”

Without a definite funding source an EMS station could possibly be shut down and could result in loss of life, Pratt said.

“We are funding it at a very high level,” Boggs countered. “And someone saying lives could be lost. I think it is reprehensible. You are not being truthful with the people.”

Dolin said he was not at the work session as a representative of the EMS.

“I wanted to voice my opinion,” he said. “This is the perfect time to find out if the public wants the levy.”

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  • FUSSY

    You cant always believe what you see or hear in the media. You should go to the open meetings in the court house on Tuesdays and the forum meeting on Thursdays and ask questions, both are at 9:30 am, you want to know what is going on for real, show up, other wise your are not informed and wont have a clue, get the facts, then be proactive, look around this county like most other counties need your support, so think about that the next time you cross the river to purchase your goods, every dollar spent is a 1/2% sales tax you did not support, wise up and support your local small business, they are the one’s keeping the economy running, there is about 62,500 people in this county. If everyone spent a $1 today, simple math at $1 day at 1/2%, 62500 x 1 x .005 ? $312.50,
    if my math is right. How much do you think it cost to have
    4 road deputies, 3 dispatcher, sheriff, detective, 911 director, EMA director, EMS supervisor, 5 paramedics, 5 emt’s, fuel for at least 10 vehicles including cruisers and ambulance, on the road for a 24 hours? wake up people and support the county, if you don’t want higher taxes, and you like the bare minimum in this day and time that we are in, (under terror alert) then KEEP YOUR MONEY IN THE COUNTY AND BUY IN LAWRENCE COUNTY! You can buy almost every need in the county, you may even find it for less, ether way.
    YOU LIVE HERE BUY HERE!!
    IT’S SIMPLE MATH PEOPLE,
    and if my math is wrong please correct me. I buy Lawrence County as much as possible and our company buys Ohio as much as possible, do your part and support our economy in our county.

    (Report comment)

    • swimmingupstream

      Here are some simple facts:

      The half-percent tax you are talking about was to be dedicated to support the EMS. The tax is projected to bring in over $2.5 million. EMS receives current only $1 million of this and needs about $200,000 more. Do the math: The money is already in place if it weren’t being spent for stuff it was never intended to support.

      And: The total sales tax is 7 percent: 5.5 for the state and 1.5 for the county (Yes, the county gets another 1 percent for general purposes). The state sales tax will increase to 5.75 on Sept. 1 and the new total will be 7.25 compared to 6 in Ky. On small everyday purchases the difference is nothing, but if you are thinking about a major purchase………

      (Report comment)

  • Dad

    was Mr. Pratt aware of the rule about requiring signatures for a levy to be put on the ballot? I am pretty sure that the county would have to pay to have an item put on the ballot. It would seem a wise and prudent thing for them to require the signatures to make sure there is a chance the issue will pass. I mean after all if they can’t get the required signatures it will not pass. Mr. Pratt does an excellent job and his heart is in the right place, but I think it is fair to require the signatures. I would sign one if it were circulated. The people of Lawrence County EMS do a great job and deserve our support. I just think we should follow the guidelines to put a levy on the ballot.

    (Report comment)

  • mikehaney

    Does the public want EMS.–yes
    Does EMS cost the public(working person)–yes
    Does public(working person)have right to determine how to pay for it.-yes
    Does public(working person) have right to spend their hard earned cash the way they see fit.–yes

    (Report comment)

  • mickakers

    FUSSY; Thank you for taking the time to provide an in-depth explanation of the duties and responsibilities of a paramedic.

    (Report comment)

  • mickakers

    Terry Dolin; My compliments on your efforts in behalf of the citizens of Lawrence County. Boggs said “he was recently at a Russell, Ky. restaurant when other diners came up to him to applaud his decision to not allow the issue to go on the ballot because they cannot afford it.” Interesting! BUT, they can afford to eat out.

    (Report comment)

    • swimmingupstream

      Heaven forbid someone have enough money left over to eat after paying taxes, taxes and more taxes. All aboard the taxation express!!!

      (Report comment)

  • Poor Richard

    Boggs and Hayes do not speak for me or many others in this county. I did not vote for either of them and would not stoop to such low standards.

    No one wants a levy or to be saddled with more taxes, but citizens have a responsibility to our community and particularly the sick and elderly. This is a situation where the needs of the many out weigh the needs of the few.

    You never know until you try. Going along with these two commissioners is nonproductive. Just because a levy is passed while things are not so good in the financial department does not mean it will be that way forever. We are just filling the gap.

    (Report comment)

  • Digi

    Keep up the good work Boggs? Seriously? Swampcreature, the first time you need EMS services that aren’t available because of lack of funding, remember that self serving employee. Now if this was a levy for a sewer system in the Chesapeake or Proctorville area I bet Mr. Boggs would be all about taxing the residents of the county. Or if perhaps it was involving giving money to the airport that is now run by people who have no reason to care if it supports the county or not, he would be on board for a tax levy! I for one would rather pay a tax levy that might save lives in the long run than put profit in Mr. Boggs pocket. And I also feel putting down the EMTs because they may feel they deserve a pay raise is uncalled for, if someone doesn’t want to deliver pizzas then go to school and get some training and get out of the delivery business, which as you stated normally doesn’t pay minimum wage. Most of those folks only get the minimal delivery charge and tips so they wouldn’t be getting that taxed to death anyways.

    (Report comment)

  • swimmingupstream

    A few thoughts on the subject:

    1. At one time there was a property tax levy to support the EMS. As I recall it was renewed by the voters several times. Then the county commissioners saw an opening to get their hands on more money by putting on a half-percent sales tax to support the EMS; in doing so they removed the property tax levy.

    2. The sales tax generated more than enough money to subsidize the EMS. In fact it would now generate approximately $1.6 million more than the $1 million used this year. So, dear readers, had the commissioners not taken money from the sales tax for other purposes, there would be more than enough money available to take care of the EMS.

    3. When the tax levies were brought to light a couple of weeks ago, that was AFTER an article appeared in The Lawrence Herald that I will partially excerpt here:

    “The ambulance service has spent more than half its 2013 budget in the first six months, but that was due to ambulance payments, worker’s compensation payments and EKG monitor payments, which aren’t assessed in the second half of the year, he (Earl “Buddy” Fry) said.

    “The amount of money the ambulance service is receiving is slightly ahead of budget, Fry said. “If second-half run activity remains at the current level or increases, it is anticipated receivables will meet or exceed the amount budgeted for the year,” he said.”

    This would suggest that a mere week before the levies were proposed, and it was said that the EMS service was nearly $200,000 in the red, the manager of the EMS service was projecting there would be no budgetary problems this year IF run levels remained the same or increased.

    4. You just have to wonder whether Fry was telling the truth or the whole operation when into the toilet in a matter of 7-14 days??????

    5. Or is this just another money grab by the politicians???

    (Report comment)

  • swampcreature

    Nothing better than self-serving input from an employee interested in passing a levy to better fund their employer so he/she can get a raise in pay, an increase in benefits and/or a new, fancy work vehicle to drive around the area.

    Only in the public sector do we witness such worker-endorsed levies. Public sector employees certainly make more than your local pizza delivery guy that typically makes a bare minimum wage, often drives their own car to death delivering pizzas with the hope of maybe a dollar tip and has little or no company benefits.

    Every worker in the country would support a levy to aid their ‘cash-strapped’ employer if they could get more out of it than they will pay into it. However, only public sector workers can do that, and they do so fairly frequently.

    Keep up the good work Mr. Boggs!

    (Report comment)

    • phantomclown

      Hmmm…the employee took time out of his day to try and voice concern over a serious issue! Those guys work for less than what other paramedics do in the tri-state area! They work hard to train and prepare to save each and every person who contacts 911 for help! If they didn’t replace those vehicles every few years, the vehicle would break down on the way to the hospital, very possibly with YOUR loved one inside of it, who is clinging to life! We need our EMS! I have always gotten good service and am very thankful for the life saving skills they have!Take it up with the owners of the pizza joint for not offering any benefits! Try looking up how many runs are taken in Lawrence County each month. This isn’t about getting more on a personal level. This is about having 911 available when it is needed! The commissioners don’t want to raise taxes in fear that they will not get voted in next term. Regardless, there was a petition several years ago. I signed it. Many people signed it, people who were property owners who wanted to make sure the protection stayed in place. I don’t agree with you swampcreature……

      (Report comment)

    • FUSSY

      Paramedics are the most highly trained of the class of EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians) working in the U.S. They undergo a rigorous training program in Advanced Life Support (ALS) that enables them to perform life-saving rescue operations.

      Some of the things that paramedics do are:

      • Perform cardiac support for heart attack victims
      • Perform emergency respiratory procedures for people with blocked airways
      • Administer IV (intravenous) fluids
      • Bandage wounds
      • Stabilize head and neck injuries
      • Stabilize broken bones
      • Resuscitate drowning victims
      • Perform emergency childbirth procedures
      • Assess health situations
      • Administer medications

      Many people are confused about what paramedics do because they think that everyone who does ambulance work is a paramedic. Although there’s almost always a paramedic in an ambulance team, this isn’t always the case. Ambulance EMT’s, of which a paramedic is the highest class, work in teams and the paramedic is the team leader. A paramedic needs to be able to assume that role in critical rescue situations such as car accidents, fire rescues, plane crashes, crime scenes and other emergencies.

      The best way to get an idea of what paramedics do is to talk with someone who’s been in the field for a while. They will probably tell you that being a paramedic is an extremely rewarding career choice. A paramedic can work for a fire department, going out on calls with firefighters. They can also work at ski resorts; on cruise ship; on job sites, such as oil rigs; and on life support helicopters. The shortage of nurses in the U.S. means that more hospitals are hiring paramedics to fill those positions.

      When finding out what paramedics do, you should also know that the job requires a steel constitution, because they need to maintain their composure in extremely stressful situations. Not being able to save a child’s life is one of the most difficult things that a paramedic faces and they have to be able to move on from that kind of scenario without getting caught up in the grief of the moment. A paramedic must be able to perform their duties expertly, even in the middle of the night when they’ve been on the job for 24 hours and haven’t had any sleep.

      The other things that paramedics do are filing reports and filling out forms relating to each call that they go out on. When transporting a patient to the hospital, they need to communicate with the staff about the patient’s condition and fill them in on any procedures they’ve performed and medications they’ve administered.

      What does a paramedic do during a shift when they’re not responding to an emergency? They occupy themselves with other tasks, such as completing paperwork, restocking their ambulance, ordering supplies, cleaning the ambulance and station house. Paramedics often do 24 our 36 hour shifts with one or two days off in-between. Paramedic work is great for people who don’t want a job that requires them to sit a desk 40 hours a week. It’s not for everyone, but many people who choose it find it an extremely fulfilling occupation.
      All for a pay of $12 an hour, think you for the comparison,

      (Report comment)

    • Dad

      I think it is ludicrous to compare EMS workers to a pizza delivery guy. I still think you should tip them well, especially if they are driving their own car. But they rarely are depended on to save someone’s life.

      (Report comment)

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